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With summer just around the corner, it’s extremely important to protect your body’s natural protective barrier. Not only does keeping your skin safe from sun damage help keep your skin from developing issues later, but it also protects you from excessive wrinkles and skin cancer.

Although sunscreen can do so much good for you, it can also be hazardous to your health. As the Environmental Working Group explains: “Active ingredients in sunscreens come in two forms, mineral and chemical filters. Each uses a different mechanism for protecting skin and maintaining stability in sunlight. Each may pose hazards to human health.”

If you are going to use sunscreen this summer, it’s important to educate yourself on the potentially hazardous chemicals it contains and the safer brands and alternatives.

Chemicals That Can Be Toxic To Your Health

Source: Dr. Daniel Sugai/Youtube

1. Oxybenzone

Oxybenzone, sometimes called benzophenone-3, is one of the most commonly used chemicals in sunscreens that are sold in the US. While the FDA says it is safe, some people say that this chemical is potentially unsafe for your health and the environment. It is linked to endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity, contact allergies, and photoallergies. Oxybenzone is so harmful to coral reefs that in 2018, Hawaii banned this chemical to preserve aquatic life.

2. Octinoxate

Although Octinoxate is currently approved for use in the United States, the FDA restricts the sale of this ingredient’s strength to a maximum of 7.5 percent. Other countries, including Canada, Japan, and Europe have also placed restrictions on the sale of this ingredient. Octinoxate is used as a UV filter that protects from UVB rays, but not UVA sun rays. While there is limited research on its effect on humans, some research has suggested that this chemical is linked to endocrine disruption and reproductive toxicity. Researchers have also found this chemical in breast milk, urine, and blood. Similar to oxybenzone, this ingredient was targeted in Hawaii’s ban as it harms coral reefs.

3. Homosalate 

Homosalate is another common sunscreen ingredient that absorbs UVB rays when in direct sunlight. Homosalate only aborbs UVB rays. Not only is this chemical ingredient linked to hormone disruption, but according to studies published by the FDA, this ingredient could be detected on the skin and in the blood weeks after no longer being used. This ingredient can also be harmful to the environment since it does not break down easily.

Safer Sunscreen Ingredients

Source: Dr. Daniel Sugai/Youtube

1. Titanium Dioxide

Titanium Dioxide is a common ingredient in sunscreen that also happens to be a naturally-occurring mineral found in the earth’s crust. It is a UV absorber, meaning it soaks up the sun’s harmful UV rays and protects your skin. Titanium dioxide absorbs UVB rays and some UVA rays. Titanium dioxide is safe for people as well as the planet and coral reefs when it’s a non-nano particle.

2. Zinc Oxide

Zinc oxide is another naturally-occurring ingredient in sunscreen and absorbs the sun’s UV rays. Zinc oxide offers broad-spectrum protection, as it protects against both harmful UVA and UVB rays. The non-nano particle, zinc, is safe for humans to use, and you won’t have to worry about harming aquatic life when using this ingredient.

Safe Sunscreens

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